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Marine Biology
SA 5005

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Recovering lost-baselines

Managing natural systems without knowledge of their previous state is like navagating without a map.  The power of such research on policy development is hard to overstate.  Here are three examples.


Two hundred (200) years ago our coast was oyster reef

Our discovery of 1500 kilometers of lost reef has made managers think about restoration of these reefs.   What did they once provide nature?

We have projects on discovering their food and habitat potential for increased fish productivity and filtration capacity for clear coastal waters.

    • Alleway HK, Connell SD (2015) Losing an ecological baseline through the eradication of oyster reefs from coastal ecosystems and human memory. Conservation Biology 29:795-804


          Seventy (70) years of poleward movement

          Our discovery suggests that seaweeds have been moving polewards for a long time.  Ocean warming may be accelerating, but it is not recent and not insignifiacnt for plant and animal life.

            • Wernberg T, Russell BD, et al., Connell SD (2011) Seaweed Communities in Retreat from Ocean Warming. Current Biology 21:1828-1832


                  Thirty (30) years ago we had 'urban' kelp forests - now lost

                  Our recovery of the urban kelp baseline enabled cross-government concenus on the need to improve water quality.  Previously, the absence of urban kelp was argued to be natural and water improvement unnecssary.  South Australia now aims to reduce its release of nitrogen by 75% to our urban coast.

                    • Connell SD, Russell BD, et al., (2008) Recovering a lost baseline: missing kelp forests from a metropolitan coast. Marine Ecology Progress Series 360:63-72